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College Radio Watch: College Radio’s Part in Local Music Scenes, Controversies over Non-Students in College Radio, and More

I was just reading about the loss of some music clubs in Boston and within the same article there’s discussion about how the independent music scene is supported and fostered by not only an active live music culture, but also by the presence of college radio. In a piece for WBUR’s Radio Boston, Musician Peter Wolf (of the J. Geils Band) is quoted saying, “Boston has…very vibrant college radio, which is very important, and it’s very supportive of a lot of new artists and the local artists…Plus, you have so many colleges which means there’s so many students that want to go out and see the bands that they enjoy, so there is a healthy environment for bands from Boston or bands from out of town to come to this area.”

I do think that there can be an amazingly synergistic relationship between college radio, music clubs, and local musicians. Stations help to promote shows, often have artists come in to do live interviews or music sets, and also generally play bands that tend to perform in smaller venues. When any part of that equation is removed, the music scene no doubt suffers. What do you think, does college radio play an important part of your town’s music scene? Does it matter if the stations are terrestrial or not?

Tension between Community and Student Participants at College Radio Station WMUA

Last month we reported on the April dismissal of a non-student DJ at University of Massachusetts, Amherst’s college radio station WMUA. The DJ is now banned from the station for 2 years. In an opinion piece on GazetteNet, WMUA DJ Lily Wallace writes about the situation, arguing that community members have too much control at the station. She writes, “How is WMUA expected to cultivate new student voices and create space for students to explore music, news and sports broadcasting when college students do not hold the majority of this station’s airtime?…Not only do community members take up more slots, they have longer slots; there are 10 community-run shows that take up upwards of three hours a slot. The longest student show is two and a half hours, held by only one student.”

There are many different ways that college radio stations are operated. Some have 100% students, while others have a mix of student and community participants (sometimes with a stated cap on the number of allowed community members). While I think there are benefits to having a mix of students and non-students, there need to be clear guidelines so that students feel welcome and have power in their own stations. It’s unclear what the real story is at WMUA (see the comments on the above-mentioned piece for a different perspective), but it’s sad that there now seems to be growing tension between members of the same station.

What’s the Oldest College Radio Station at a Women’s College?

While scouring the Internet for college radio news this week, I spotted a claim that one particular station had the oldest all-women’s college radio station in the United States. Since I’m familiar with similar unsubstantiated claims about the oldest college radio stations in general, I dug a little further and found no fewer than three women’s college radio stations purporting to be the oldest. Read more in this week’s Radio Survivor Bulletin (our free weekly email, which is always full of interesting radio tidbits) to find out which station may be the oldest, still operating women’s college radio station.

Radio Survivor Podcast: College Radio LPFM at University of Virginia

Tune in to this week’s Radio Survivor Podcast to hear my weekly college radio report starting at around the 19 minute mark. I talk specifically about the development of a new low power FM station at University of Virginia. It’s an interesting case, as there are three radio stations affiliated with University of Virginia, including community-oriented WTJU, the soon-to-be LPFM WXTJ, and commercial radio station WUVA (which is student-oriented, although owned by a separate non-profit).

KUNV Adds More Student Shows

During the most recent Radio Survivor Podcast, Paul Riismandel asked me if having multiple radio stations on campus actually creates more student interest in the more established stations (as is the case at University of Virginia, where the creation of a new student-focused station is attracting more students to the community-oriented FM station).

I said that it does and was interested to see that playing out at University of Nevada’s Las Vegas campus too. Home to the 30+ year old mostly jazz-oriented KUNV-FM and the student-oriented The Rebel (streaming and HD-2), UNLV is rich in radio offerings and is now making its FM station even more accessible to students.

According to Las Vegas Weekly, “Two months ago, KUNV quietly swapped out its Monday-Friday nighttime smooth-jazz programming for a six-hour, student-curated show called The Nightshift, divided into two-hour blocks of indie rock, underground hip-hop (including Friday-night institution Word Up) and non-commercial electronic dance music. This complements The Rebel, KUNV’s college radio-style HD radio/online station, and the also left-of-center (and recently retooled) Saturday-Sunday programming, which includes Neon Reverb, formerly the sole indie/punk content on KUNV proper. So why are students now granted so much more access to KUNV, especially when CSUN—UNLV’s student government—doesn’t even fund the station? Credit UNLV brass. ‘The University has considered the value of the radio stations and it’s one area we can provide more service to students,’ says KUNV general manager Frank Mueller.”

Wow. That’s a great turn of events, that no doubt

Moving on Up from Class D to LPFM at Southwestern College

Sometimes low power is more power! Southwestern College in Kansas just turned back its class D FM radio license because its new low power FM (LFPM) license will actually allow for a larger listening audience.

Happy 40th Anniversary to Australian Student Radio Station

I don’t know too much about college radio in Australia (but would love to visit some time!), so was interested to see that a station at Swinburne University is turning 40. According to the Swinburne Student Radio website, “Swinburne Student Radio began in 1974, run by hippies with beards and brown pants. Like most memories of the 70’s, 3SSR’s are fuzzy. The 80’s saw expansion and an unprecedented 30 spins of ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’. After the Government decided to remove the majority of community radio station licences, instead of dying, 3SSR decided to stream over the Internet. In recent times, 3SSR has enjoyed some major surgery to cover up its ageing lines.”

Profiling Mississippi State’s College Radio Station WMSV

The Dispatch ran a piece about college radio station WMSV-FM at Mississippi State. The station’s new General Manager, Anthony Craven, first worked at WMSV more than a decade ago as a student. He recounted how the station has changed over the years, telling the Dispatch, “There have been so many changes in my 16 years of involvement…You would take each individual CD out of the case and play it when I started. Now you can program a full week’s worth of music in advance and just have it playing 24/7.” The station airs a AAA (adult album alternative) music format and also runs many syndicated programs, including World Cafe, Making Contact, and the Putumayo World Music Hour.

Getting Technical at Old Westbury Web Radio

For those fascinated by the nitty gritty details of radio studio set-ups, a recent piece in Radio Magazine will be just the ticket. In its profile of Old Westbury Web Radio, the magazine outlines the station’s collection of gear. According to the article, “The beautiful 604-acre campus of the SUNY College at Old Westbury, N.Y., is home to the college Internet radio station Old Westbury Web Radio. Located in the Student Union’s top floor, this 24/7 Internet radio station has grown significantly, not only in size, but in the quality of its technologies and programming.”

We cover the culture of college radio every Friday in our College Radio Watch feature. If you have college radio news to share, please drop us a note at EDITORS at RADIOSURVIVOR dot COM.


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One Response to College Radio Watch: College Radio’s Part in Local Music Scenes, Controversies over Non-Students in College Radio, and More

  1. Max Shea August 5, 2015 at 12:14 am #

    I am the DJ from WMUA. I was not only banned from the station, I was trespassed by the police for two years from University of Massachusetts at Amherst. And how?
    Three students whose ulterior motives are to expel the community from WMUA and make it an all-student station made up vicious lies about me and reported them to the police.

    UMass Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Annemarie Seifert, PhD., flanked by two hulking police officers required my summary expulsion from the station and removal from campus as a dangerous and threatening individual. Once again, I will not repeat the defamatory lies, these three students told about me.

    We are currently trying to rectify the situation, but a glacial-paced bureaucracy and an embarrassed university don’t make it easy.

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